Engineering 101

Here comes invisibility cloaking

Optical cloaking hides objects in plain sight by guiding light around anything placed inside a cloak. You read about it in “Harry Potter” books, but now, researchers are realizing cloaks that shield objects from view by controlling the flow of electromagnetic radiation around them.

In the Journal of Applied Physics, by AIP Publishing, researchers from the Toyota Research Institute of North America examined recent progress using invisibility cloaks that function in natural incoherent light and can be created using standard optical components

Cloaking device realized by standard optical components. Credit: Figure reproduced with permission from Sci. Rep. 6, 38965 (2016) Copyright 2016 Springer Nature Limited

Invisibility cloaks have many potential applications including sensing and display devices in warfare, surveillance, blind spot removal in vehicles, spacecraft, and highly efficient solar cells. Toyota’s researchers examined blind spots that occur in vehicles, such as the windshield pillars, the stanchions that frame windshields. Advances in metamaterials, engineered complexes of metals and dielectrics for manipulating electromagnetic waves, open the possibility for realizing optical cloaks around an object by making incoming light bypass it.

By simplifying invisibility requirements, innovative work with spherical transformation cloaks, carpet cloaks, plasmonic cloaks, and mantle cloaks in narrowband microwave, infrared, and optical wavelengths has been accomplished. For optimization, artificial intelligence and machine learning may help resolve challenges, while algorithms help solve the necessary inverse design problem in the context of practical cloaking devices.

It is foreseeable that flexible cloaks that could function effectively at all incident angles with a high cloaking ratio and a wide field of view could be realized and mass-produced at low cost and high efficiency. The research can be accessed at

Original Release: Eureka Alert


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